8th Army learning to cut waste, save millions
Stars and Stripes March 21, 2006
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Eighth U.S. Army officials are training a group of about 25 subject matter experts who will lead the push in using a new management tool to improve Army missions, products and services while reducing costs.
The 8th Army goal in fiscal 2007, according to Maj. Ki Young Pak, Chief of the Business Transformation Office for the 8th Army, is saving $14.6 million.
To accomplish that, officials will use Lean Six Sigma, an Army-wide initiative that was adopted from the civilian workforce. “Lean” focuses on reducing seven areas of waste: overproduction, waiting time, transportation, over-processing, inventory, motion and scrap. And “Six Sigma” uses management philosophies that focus on improving existing business processes and creating new product or process designs.
While officials are expecting a “deployment order” from Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey to launch the program, the 8th Army already has started moving forward, contracting with the George Group to train them in Lean Six Sigma.
More than 40 senior leaders, including 8th Army commander Lt. Gen. Charles Campbell and five other general officers, met in early March for an executive overview session.
Following the senior session, a group of about 25 personnel conducted an initial meeting — called a Project Selection Workshop — to identify possible targets. Those personnel will undergo training during the next five months to become subject matter experts.
The goal for the rest of fiscal 2006, Pak said, is developing a “critical mass of subject matter experts.”
The program comes as the Army faces “increasingly scarce resources … ongoing transnational threats and … the ongoing war against terrorism,” according to an 8th Army news release.
The Army is using the analogy of “standing on a burning platform” so soldiers understand the urgency and need of LSS.
“The U.S. Army and every soldier is standing on a burning platform,” according to the release. “Bound by duty, jumping from the platform into the unknown is not an option. Every rank and file must turn to fight the fire.”
And officials stress that LSS isn’t a tool to eliminate positions — especially the Department of Army civilian workforce.
“Certainly this is not about job cutting,” Pak said.
Pak explained that the goal was to offset the budget reductions — the $14.6 million targeted for fiscal 2007 — with efficiencies.
“We’ll take the necessary steps along the way,” Pak said. “Instead of a revolutionary process, we’ll make this an evolutionary process.”